RAF No 32 Squadron emblem

No 32 (The Royal) Squadron

Motto: Adeste Comites (Rally round, comrades)

Formed on 12 January 1916 at Netheravon, it was designated a fighter squadron and following work up on Vickers FB5s and Henri Farmans, it took its operational equipment, DH2s to the Western Front in May 1916. A year later these were replaced with DH5s and these in turn by SE5As in December 1917. The unit operated over the Western Front until the Armistice and eventually returned to Tangmere in March 1919 but later moved to Croydon, where it disbanded on 29 December 1919.

The squadron was reformed (single flight) on 1 April 1923 at Kenley, equipped with Snipes. Second and third flights were added in December 1923 and June 1924, bringing the squadron to full strength. Grebes replaced the Snipes in December 1924 with successive re-equipment coming in the form of Siskins (April 1928), Bulldogs (September 1930) and Gauntlets (July 1936).

The squadron received Hurricanes a year before World War Two broke out and was initially engaged on defensive patrols over France from British bases and took part in the early part of the Battle of Britain. However, the squadron moved north to Acklington in August 1940 and did not return to south until December. Continuing in the defensive role for a further fifteen months when it began to train for the night intruder role, still equipped with Hurricanes. These operations began in July 1942 but in September it joined the forces preparing for the invasion of North Africa.

By December 1942 it was operating in Algeria providing air cover to coastal convoys and port facilities in the area. Spitfires arrived in August 1943 and in October the squadron re-located to Italy but was soon back in Algeria. In January 1944 it returned to Italy, remaining until October 1944 when it moved to Greece and then it February 1945 it moved again, this time to Palestine, and then to Egypt in Oct 1946, where it remained until May 1948.

From Palestine the squadron re-located to Cyprus and converted to Vampires the following March. A return to Egypt came in January 1951 and Venoms in January 1955. At the same time the squadron moved to the Persian Gulf (Shaibah) and nine months later to Malta (Takali). August 1956 saw the squadron move to Amman in Jordan but in January 1957 it briefly returned to the UK (Weston Zoyland) and converted to the Canberra, which it took back to Cyprus , remaining there until disbanding again on 3 February 1969.

However, the same day the No 32 Squadron was reborn by renaming the Metropolitan Communications Squadron. Based at Northolt it was equipped with a variety of light transport and communications aircraft including helicopters and continues in that role to the present time. On 1 April 1995 it was renamed No 32 (The Royal) Squadron when it took on the additional tasks previously fulfilled by the Queen's Flight, which was disbanded as a cost cutting measure. In 2006 it was announced that the Royal/VIP service currently operated by No 32 Squadron would be replaced in eighteen months time by one run by the Department of Transport. As a result the squadron will take on a more operational role although it will continue to fly MoD ministers and RAF officers as well as other government officials into operational areas.


Award of Standard originally announced on 15 Jan 1952, effective from 1 Apr 1951 but presented:- lst - 6 June 1957 ACM Sir James Robb. 2nd - 6 June 1987 ACM Sir Michael Knight.

Battle Honours:

Western Front, 1916-1918: Somme, 1916-1918: Arras: Ypres, 1917: Amiens: France & Low Countries, 1939-1940: Battle of Britain, 1940: Home Defence, 1940-1942: Dieppe: North Africa, 1942-1943: Italy, 1943: South East Europe, 1944-1945: Gulf,1991:

Squadron Codes used: -

KT Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
GZ Sep 1939 - Nov 1942, Jul 1944 - May 1949

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023